It’s the worst feeling.
You’re at work or school and trying to make friends. Your colleagues are sharing about whatever silly thing happened at camp when they were kids. Or, perhaps it’s some heartwarming story about that time their mom saved the day on the class field trip. They’re jovial. Engaged with one another. They can relate to one another.
Your mind is a total blank.
Their stories remind you of your own stories. Sure. But your’s don’t feel PG enough to tell in this context.
You may feel that your stories aren’t “appropriate water cooler talk.”
Your stories do not end on a high note. Or maybe the ones that do get a little darker in the middle and you fear judgment. Or you are simply not comfortable sharing even a cleaned up version of them because of the way it makes you feel.
You’ve seen more than your fair share of life and it’s a lot to carry around sometimes.
Yet, connection is vital.
You want to join in. You want to relate but it’s difficult to do so.
You feel left out. Different. Awkward.
You feel isolated. Lonely.
But you are not alone.
It sounds cliché. I know, but it’s true. There are plenty of others who are keeping it under wraps just like you. And we are often better at perpetuating this façade than we realize. Thus, nobody knows what the others are going through and vice versa.
The key, though, is not to get hung up on the water cooler.
The water cooler isn’t the goal.
The water cooler is simply a bridge.
A bridge to, slowly but surely, finding your own, beautiful, little collective of people. People who you can share whatever comes to your mind, whenever it shows up. No holds barred. YOUR people.
The people who you can laugh, then cry, then laugh with again. The ones you can let your freak flag fly with! The people who will move with you and see you for your possibilities.
So chip away at that water cooler and those façades. Give it time, patience, due diligence.
And if you are having trouble? You know where to reach me.